Today- 35km off trail , Routeburn Shelter to Mckeller Hut
Classic tourist day. And what a day for a side trip! After staying in Glenorchy, we got lucky with a couple of hitches to the start of the Routeburn Track.
The TA starts from the Greenstone carpark, but I really wanted to do the Routeburn as a side trip, and Emeric had been keen to do it too, since he was heading home pretty much straight after the TA.
Started the track about 10am and breezed through the first hour of forest, past day walkers and guided hikers, and loved the easy graded walking trails.
Heaps of cool bridges and soon enough we arrived at Routeburn Flats and started to climb.
It was humid and sweaty work up to the Routeburn Falls hut, but an easy graded climb. Incredible views spread out below with the mountains and river snaking it’s way through the valley.
All the huts are Great Walk standard, so basically like lodges!! We had lunch at the Routeburn Falls hut and ran into Wieke, Dan & Liv. All of us were planning to do the track today and head onto the Greenstone track to camp later today.
Because of it’s Great Walk status, the huts and campgrounds need to be booked well in advance. Most of the TA hikers will opt to do it in one day, as it is 33km and graded trail.
After lunch, kept climbing up higher, making our way to the Harris Saddle, definately a highlight of the trip.
Awesome views through tussock and to all the surrounding mountains meant we were spoiled with choice for photos.
Arriving at Harris Saddle, we saw a nice shelter and had a break, sneaky snickers bar, and then continued round.
Classic tourist behaviour
The glaciers in the distance and the tall Darren Mountains kept us company as we sidled up across the valley, descending in the end to Lake Mackenzie, where we stopped for a cheese break and chilled out.
The track was so nice and graded, still the odd part where you had to watch your feet but we made really good time all day, and enjoyed relaxing with lots of smaller stops and a few long ones.
It was really cool seeing the changing landscape over the course of one day, from forest to alpine and lakes and waterfall, big expansive river valleys, and tussockland.
The last couple of hours were in the forest as we sidled across to Lake Howden, where a friendly DoC ranger greeted us with smiles and told us we were nearly there.
All the DoC staff have been super friendly today, telling us weather forecasts and showing a big interest in the TA, which is really helpful.
After some choccy and water , we didn’t stay long at Lake Howden hut and pushed onwards, entering the Greenstone track. After 10 minutes we arrived at the campsite where the others behind us had planned to stay, but we were keen for a bed so pushed another 5km to the Mckeller hut.
We smashed it, walking at a really decent pace and I was feeling great even after a big day of climbing mountains.
Arrived at the hut and pulled out a beer we had carried. Never tasted so good. Had a big dinner and enjoyable evening as the sun wassetting.
Mckeller hut is huge and so nice. Stoked to have a comfy bed to sleep in after such a great day.